Councils should be given the power to license rented properties based on their energy performance, according to an influential backbench MP.

Alan Simpson, the chair of the all-party group on warm homes, said the measure would tackle emissions from the existing stock. “Existing measures are not working,” he said. “We need to look at compulsion. We need to be able to experiment, such as looking at the requirement for rented properties to be licensed to minimum SAP energy standards.”

Simpson, Labour MP for Nottingham South, described current policies to tackle climate change, such as emissions trading and offsetting, as “Mickey Mouse”. “We need to get away from these ludicrous distractions,” he said.

Simpson, who put forward an amendment to the current energy bill to pay homeowners more for energy sold to the grid by domestic renewable generation, was speaking at the launch of the Existing Homes Alliance, a coalition of private and public sector bodies focused on reducing the environmental impact of the old housing stock.

The body called for a major programme of low energy refurbishments to tackle half a million properties in the next five years.

Acting chair Paul Ruyssevelt said the government needed to set ambitious targets for existing houses similar to plans to create zero-carbon new homes.